50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?
(1 Nephi 17:50-51)
When Nephi received a difficult assignment from the Lord, he moved forward with confidence, believing that the Lord would help him fulfill the assignment. When his brothers questioned his optimism and suggested that he was foolish, he reminded them of the miracles God had performed previously, both as recorded in the scriptures and as they had experienced in their own lives. The lesson: if God has miraculously helped others in the past and has even miraculously helped us, then it is not foolish for me to believe that He can help me today.
Unbelief leads to inaction. In the passage above, Nephi responds to his brothers’ unwillingness to work on the ship which will carry them to the promised land. Why wouldn’t they work? Because “they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:18).
Nephi, on the other hand, had started working just as soon as he received the commandment. His first question was where he could go to find ore to make tools. He skipped the step of wondering whether the task was possible, and jumped straight into thinking about how to do the work (1 Nephi 17:8-10).
Nephi based his faith on his spiritual knowledge. He knew that God had performed many miracles, as recorded in the scriptures. He also knew that God had performed many miracles in his own life. Those past events served as his evidence that God could perform a miracle again: “If the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?”
Today, I will remember that God is capable of performing miracles in my life. I will choose to believe and will take action based on that belief, knowing that God has helped me in the past, so He will also help me in the future.